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THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS

Monday, 4 February 2008



UNEP and the Executive Director in the News


  • Walking the Walk: time to end coal mining! (Scoop.co.NZ)

  • Haven of coral under threat (Fiji Times)

  • Gender, climate change and natural disasters (Online Opinion)

  • Business-as-usual is not an option (Manila Standard)

  • Antiguan diplomats leads environmental discussions (Antigua Sun)

  • UN Must Coordinate Action to Address Climate Change, Says New Report (News Blaze)

  • Les mangroves disparaissent à un rythme "alarmant" (Le Monde)

  • Was wird aus den Arten? (Berliner Morgenpost)

  • Wassernotstand droht vielen Regionen (Frankfurt live.com)

  • Experto pide más inversión en cambio climático (Diaro Libre)

  • Los expertos sobre cambio climático analizarán en Albacete el impacto que produce en los sectores productivos de España (Europa Press)

  • L'Amérique et les pays caraïbéens doivent jouer un rôle clé dans les négociations internationales sur les changements climatiques (Malango Actualite)

  • Experto del PNUMA alerta sobre baja en turismo





Other Environment News


  • London hosts world's largest low emission zone (Reuters)

  • UK's first emissions zone begins (BBC)

  • Qatar eyes solar power to meet surging demand: report (Reuters)

  • EU 'should ban inefficient cars' (BBC)

  • A ‘Bold’ Step to Capture an Elusive Gas Falters (New York Times)

  • Promoters pledge to turn festivals green: Swiss and Danes show the way to eco-friendly events – Organisers to make greater use of renewable energy (The Guardian)

  • Green groups cry foul as UK claims progress towards Kyoto targets (Guardian)

  • Big business says addressing climate change 'rates very low on agenda' (Independent)

  • Australia PM calls summit to tackle drought, reforms (Reuters)

  • Mad magazine enlists Pulitzer winners to take on Bush (IHT)

  • People Blamed for Water Woes in West (ABC)

  • Nuevos hallazgos en torno a cambio climático (Swissinfo.ch)

  • Changement climatique - Une évolution plutôt favorable à la viticulture (Viti-net)

  • UN: Mangrove Forests Vanishing at an "Alarming" Rate (ENS)

  • Govt emissions paper not transparent enough: green group (ABC News)

  • The California Waiver. The EPA administrator's decision was wrong. (Washington Post)


Environmental News from the UNEP Regions



  • ROAP

  • ROLAC

  • ROWA



Other UN News


  • Environment News from the UN Daily News of 1 February 2008

  • Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 1 February (none)

UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
Scoop.co.NZ: Walking the Walk: time to end coal mining!
Monday, 4 February 2008, 8:24 am
Save Happy Valley Coalition - Auckland and Walk the Walk.

1st February 2008.


The Save Happy Valley Coalition Auckland in association with other Environmental groups will be holding a highly visible protest outside Huntly Power Station at the Huntly (Boaties) Reserve at 5p.m. on Sunday the 3rd of February 2008.
There will be a candle lit vigil for the planet at 9p.m. at the same place.
The Save Happy Valley Coalition Auckland is challenging the Prime Minster to show that she deserves the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Champions of the Earth award announced on Monday and calls for an end to coal mining in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
"New Zealand still has a coal fired power station at Huntly pumping tonnes of pollution into the atmosphere daily, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide" said Save Happy Valley Coalition - Auckland spokesperson Alex Foulkes.

New Zealand is hosting World Environment Day on June 5 with the theme "kick the carbon habit."


“If the Prime Minister is serious about kicking the carbon habit then she would decommission Huntly, stop the export of coal and hence save the pristine upland wetland at Happy Valley in Buller” says Mr Foulkes.
"Helen Clark has stated that she wants New Zealand 'to be in the vanguard for achieving carbon neutrality.' If she wants to be a leader on this, following Australia's failed energy and coal mining practices will not work."
"State owned coal miner Solid Energy ripped 4.65m tonnes of coal out of the earth in the last financial year."
Save Happy Valley members and supporters are taking part in a Walk from Auckland’s Sky Tower to Happy Valley to raise awareness of Climate change and Happy Valley

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Fiji Times: Haven of coral under threat
VASEMACA RARABICI

Sunday, February 03, 2008



Coral reefs are often referred to as the canaries of the ocean because, like the canary in a mine, they give an indicator of the dangers that lie ahead.
Or they are often described as the rainforests of the sea because they are home to 25 per cent of the world's marine fish species, and cover one percent of the Earth's surface, making them the largest single living structure on Earth.
But judging by the state of coral reefs these days, if you happen to be a fish, it's not looking good for you because this fragile marine environment is in serious trouble due to destructive fishing methods, climate change, pollution and removal from the sea for use in jewelry and decorative home objects.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, coral reefs are dying faster than previously thought, at a rate that is twice as fast as rainforest destruction.
UNEP also states that around 30 per cent of the world's coral reefs are already damaged, some irreparably and at the present rate of destruction, by the year 2050, a breathtaking 70 per cent of the world's reefs will have disappeared.
To raise awareness of coral reefs and the threats to their survival, the world, including Fiji will celebrate the International Year of Coral Reefs.
The IYOCR 2008 is a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability, and to motivate people to take action to protect them
Despite their appearances, corals are neither rocks nor plants. Corals are living animals that provide marine species with food, fertile grounds for reproduction and a safe haven from predators. TV actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, famous for her role as Elaine on Seinfield, said earlier this week that, "Corals inspire me and many others with their beauty, and coral reefs support the livelihoods of millions around the world. These animals are integral to the health of the ocean, and it is up to each of us to make sure corals are protected. If we take good care of the ocean, the ocean will take care of us."
She was speaking at the launch of the Too Precious to Wear campaign in New York, an initiative by Seaweb to educate fashion editors, designers and consumers about the importance of corals and how damaging them would mean harming the entire equilibrium of the Ocean.
Seaweb is a Conservation Organisation that helps to promote a healthy ocean and with the IYOCR celebrated this year it has kicked off its Coral program with the launch.
Dawn M. Martin, president of SeaWeb, said, "Corals simply are too precious to wear. They belong in the ocean, where they contribute to the survival of thousands of other marine species. Consumers and the fashion industry can play an important role in the ocean's recovery by simply choosing products that do not harm the ocean. Conscientious jewellers like Tiffany & Co. have already removed precious corals from their product lines and we urge others to take the same action."
Most of us think that humans are in no way connected to coral reefs but ultimately it's not just fish that need coral reefs, we do too. With the food supply issue aside, reefs play a vital function in protecting our coastlines, particularly from rising sea levels.
Without them, low-lying areas especially in the Pacific, like Tuvalu and Kiribati, would be gone in the next decade.
Coral also offer vast health benefits. Coral reefs have been used to treat cancers, HIV, cardiovascular diseases and ulcers. The coral skeletons have also been used for bone grafts, Nature Conservancy says.
The economic effects of coral reefs dying are also worth bearing in mind. According to the Nature Conservancy, 500 million of us rely on coral reefs for our food and work to the extent that it estimates reefs contribute as much as $375billion a year in goods and services. UNEP calculates that the economic value of coral reefs works out at up to $600,000 per square kilometer.
To have any chance at all of protecting the world's reefs (aside from avoiding a temperature increase of 2 degrees Centigrade that is) scientists are saying that 25 per cent to 35 per cent of marine habitats must be made "no-go" areas permanently.
Some countries, like Fiji, now are stepping up to the mark and enforcing bans and no-go areas around the reef systems are becoming more socially acceptable.
In some bigger countries, Ireland for example is asking the European Union to introduce a permanent no-fishing area off its coastlines where 2500 square kilometers of deep cold water reefs grow, reports AFP.
Here the reefs are affected less by warmed waters, and more by commercial fishing boats. The Philippines has also experienced some success with no-go fishing areas around its reefs.
In the meantime, scientists continue to attempt to understand how coral reefs live and die and if there is any other way of saving them. One positive discovery has been recently made by a team of Israeli researchers, who found that while acidification destroys reefs, some coral 'polyps' that live inside them can go into what appears to be a form of hibernation, only to reappear again later when conditions are normalised, AFP reports.
One thing that may save coral reefs from the effects of global warming could be another one of the effects of global warming hurricanes. According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the cooling effect of hurricanes on sea water surfaces could help coral recover.
A hurricane has the potential to cool sea temperatures by as much as 1.5 degrees Centigrade for as long as 10 days, reports the New Scientist.
However, relying on hurricanes to save the world's coral reefs is not a particularly reliable solution. In order to be effective the hurricane needs to be strong enough to cool the water but not so strong that it destroys the reefs. And if climate change is responsible for bringing more hurricanes, they are likely to be big ones.
* Ms Rarabici is a communication analyst with the SeaWeb. SeaWeb is a communication company that helps the media to promote a healthy ocean. ________________________________________________________________________
Online Opinion: Gender, climate change and natural disasters
By Kellie Tranter - posted Monday, 4 February 2008 Sign Up for free e-mail updates!
The recent spate of “natural” disasters (some of which are “climate related”, some are not) all over the world caused me to wonder whether their effects are evenly spread between the sexes. Logically, human beings of both sexes should react in much the same way to environmental threats, and any differences in the effect of disasters between the sexes should be fairly small.
I was interested to turn up some research that has already been done. I was appalled at what it showed: more women die than men as the direct and indirect result of natural disasters; 90 per cent of the 140,000 victims of the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone disasters were women (PDF 92KB); more women than men died during the 2003 European heat wave; and the 2006 tsunami killed three to four women for each man.
How could that be so?

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In a speech in 1999 Lord Hoffman, an English law lord, said “... unless you know the question, you will not be able to get the right answer. Once the question has been identified, the answer is usually relatively easy ...”. That prompted me to think that in order to find out why women are more affected by climate change than men, by first asking "in what ways are women more affected?" we might get some clues as to why women are affected in that way.
Some interesting patterns emerged when I went digging.
In Sri Lanka, swimming and tree climbing are taught mainly to boys; this helped males cope better than females, and allowed more to survive when the waves of the tsunami hit. Social prejudice keeps girls and women from learning to swim, which severely reduces their chances of survival in flooding disasters.
Women often stay indoors because of social prohibitions against leaving home.
In Aceh many women were found dead with babies still clutched in their arms. Some personal accounts by survivors tell of mothers pushing their children to safety on to buildings or up trees that withstood the tsunami, but were then swept away themselves. The long dresses women are obliged to wear under Aceh’s shariah laws made it harder to move quickly. They could not run as fast as men, nor could they swim.
There were stories of some women, who were in their homes but casually dressed when the first wave struck, who ran to put on “acceptable” outdoor clothes before seeking safety, and as a result were drowned or barely escaped.
In times of disaster and environmental stress women become less mobile because they are the primary care-givers.
After a natural disaster, women are more likely to become victims of domestic and sexual violence. They often avoid using shelters out of fear. The household workload increases substantially after a disaster, which forces many girls to drop out of school to help with chores.
Nutritional status is a critical determinant (PDF 968KB) of the ability to cope with the effect of natural disasters. Women are more prone to nutritional deficiencies because of their unique nutritional needs. Some cultures have household food hierarchies, generally favouring males. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women carry greater loads than men, but have a lower intake of calories because the cultural norm is for men to receive more food.
Women plant, produce, procure and prepare most of the world’s food: women are responsible for about 75 per cent of household food production in Sub-Saharan Africa; 65 per cent in Asia; and 45 per cent in Latin America.
The time-consuming task of gathering and transporting water generally falls to women. As water becomes scarce, women’s workload increases dramatically. Girls’ school attendances, and eventually enrolments, drop as they trek longer distances to find water.

From the information I was able to access it seemed to me that the ways in which women are affected more than men is fairly consistently associated with their caregiving obligations or with cultural or religious mores.


So what if anything can we do about these appalling statistics?
There is probably no real scope for direct action because most of the foundational problems are entrenched cultural or religious mores that are not really susceptible to even local political intervention. Can aid agencies do what governments can’t? Perhaps it all comes down to educating women - giving them the benefit of the capacity for critical thought that comes with general education, and also educating women to look objectively at, and perhaps think differently about, their roles and behaviours and the consequences of these when under threat. That might at least bring them closer to a position of choice (PDF 912KB).
But each possible solution brings more problems and more questions. Where does the money come from? Should it come from developed nations considering that some of these disasters have been exacerbated or caused by their development? How should fair contributions be determined?
In September last year The Council of Women World Leaders (CWWL), the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) and the Heinrich Boll Foundation North America organised a roundtable called “How a Changing Climate Impacts Women”. The participants recognised that while there are no references to gender in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), statistics show that climate change is not gender neutral.
In December 2007 four global institutions - Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) - met with Women environment ministers and leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali to ensure for the first time that “gender issues are prominent in climate policy and action”.
As a result of the meeting, the Network called upon the signatory countries and the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to:
* recognise that women are powerful agents of change and that their full participation is critical in adaptation and mitigation climate policies and initiatives, and hence, guarantee that women and gender experts participate in all decisions related to climate change;

* take action in order to ensure UNFCCC compliance with human rights frameworks, international and national commitments on gender equality and equity, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);

* develop a gender strategy, invest in gender-specific climate change research and establish a system for the use of gender-sensitive indicators and criteria for governments to use in national reporting to the UNFCCC Secretariat;

* analyse and identify gender-specific impacts and protection measures related to floods, droughts, heatwaves, diseases, and other environmental changes and disasters; and



* given that millions of poor women affected by climate change live and work outside the reach of formal markets, design and implement funding mechanisms accessible to them to reduce their particular vulnerabilities. In addition, increase equitable access by poor women and men to climate change market-based approaches such as the Clean Development Mechanism.
The actions of these groups is a positive and essential step: unless the interaction between gender and climate change is placed and kept firmly on the agenda, any policies to slow and redress climate change and its consequences are unlikely to assist disadvantaged women. Their proposals also allow action to be put in train now, through established international organisations which have the capacity to allocate the necessary funding. And if we all encourage our governments to support their initiatives through the United Nations - to which all wealthier countries are financial contributors - then we are all making a contribution to the solution.
Addressing the issue of gender and climate change requires long-term objectives and long-term commitment from the international community. The women’s organisations who are currently involved simply can’t shoulder the financial burden, and nor should they. And with the frequency and severity of environmental disasters increasing it is also critical that the work of those organisations should not be hindered by the qualification “pending funding”. ________________________________________________________________________
Manila Standard: Business-as-usual is not an option
By Atty. Rita Linda V. Jimeno
I am not comfortable treading on grounds not too many may be eager to hear about—climate change. It is like talking about a disease when only those afflicted with it are the ones who actually pay attention. It’s a topic people may listen to but do nothing about, in a belief that it is a problem too remote to be concerned with, for now. I could opt to keep my peace and not share this piece of information. But if I do, I will not be able to live with myself when disasters and calamities of unimaginable magnitudes strike, especially in a developing country like ours.
I had a meeting last week with lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr., who was recently named as a trustee of the Center for International Environmental Law. Oposa had also received the highest honor from the United Nations in the field of environment, the UNEP Global 500 Roll of Honor. I was shocked about what I learned. Oposa said that we, the inhabitants of the earth, only had a window of 10 years to avert a virtual devastation of the planet. And mind you, the 10-year period does not refer to a time frame for planning but rather, for acting —drastically—to stop global warming and climate change. What happens if every one of us goes on with our lives on a business-as-usual scenario?
He quoted from the leading climate change scientist, James Hansen, who is the director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies: “Man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming reaches a tipping point and becomes unstoppable.” And then what?
My curiosity led me to a thorough research on Hansen and climate change. According to the scientist whose warnings, by the way, have, in some ways, been blocked and edited by the country that is the foremost emitter of greenhouse gases—the United States—the world temperature could increase by 5 degrees Fahrenheit within the next 10 years.
So what if the earth’s temperature rises by about 5 degrees Fahrenheit? According to Hansen, who has been studying the warming and cooling of the earth in the billions of years of its existence, the last time the earth warmed by 5 degrees Fahrenheit was three million years ago. This was a period of mass extinction. Sea level then rose by 80 feet. This is equivalent to the height of an eight-story building. When this happens, the city of Manila and most of our coastal provinces will disappear. Our 7,100 islands, surrounded by seas, would probably be halved, if we are lucky; much less, if we are not. The US, he said, would lose many of its east coast cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Miami. Practically the entire state of Florida would disappear, while other countries would fare far worse. China would have 250 million displaced people, India would lose its land of 150 million people while Bangladesh would practically be wiped out.
He explains that with the earth’s warming, the ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctica would melt, or worse, collapse suddenly resulting in the abrupt rising of the seas. This doomsday scenario may still be averted at this time, he explains, if governments change their policies and if the people of the world change their lifestyles. What causes the warming of the planet, which we hardly notice, is the constant emission of gases into the atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect. Picture a greenhouse covered with a net. That is what happens when we use fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and forms a layer covering the earth. When the rays of the sun enter the earth, the rays cannot bounce out but are instead trapped into the earth because the atmosphere is covered with greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. The heat thus builds up and the ice in the arctic region melts down. Hansen says it is no longer a question of “if” but “when” it will happen.
World leaders are not unaware of the tragedies waiting to happen unless action is taken. They have been meeting in United Nations summits to discuss global warming and climate change. The last was in December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia. But they are not one in the solutions that have to be immediately taken. Countries have to substantially cut the use of gasoline, oil and coal in driving industries or at least find ways to sequester or capture the emissions before they are released into the atmosphere. Methane, for instance, may be captured and converted into energy. Governments could promote the use of renewable energy such as those from the sun and the wind. There is also hydro-power. The problem lies in the fact there is yet no viable and sufficient substitute for fossil fuels. Hence, for governments, it is a choice between economic progress and the possible devastation of the planet. But if we lose the earth, what economic progress are we talking about?
Yet, we could all make a difference if we wanted to. We could start from the most mundane by eating less meat because methane gas is released from animal wastes and feedlots. We could also segregate our garbage and recycle the recyclables. All the bio-degradable items such as leftovers and fruit and vegetable peelings should be buried in soil and composted. Even those living in condominiums could maintain pots with soil where they could compost their leftovers. We could organize car pools or schedule our trips to minimize the use of gasoline. We should minimize the use of lights, air conditioners, electric fans and all other electrical appliances and gadgets. We should use less paper, or at least recycle them. Trees need to be cut to make paper. Considering that nature provided a way to rid the air of carbon dioxide by means of trees, we should save or at the very least, replace them. Trees sequester and use up the carbon dioxide in the air and convert them into oxygen. Yet, we keep cutting trees to make way for development such as buildings, housing projects and other infrastructure, destroying the balance nature provided. Government should impose higher taxes for vehicles that guzzle up oil and gas.
Laws should be passed to exploit the development of renewable energy and to order the phase out of styrofoam and plastics. Unfortunately, our politicians are preoccupied with looking good for the 2010 elections. They chart their political careers as though the earth will always be here for them. What they refuse to see, because it is easier to ignore and not try to understand, is that nothing will matter anymore unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions—now.
Our actions and inaction now, will dictate what is in store for our children and grandchildren. The earth will survive as it always had in the billions of years of its existence. But we, its present inhabitants, may not be around long enough to even see the fruits of what we are working on now. Business-as-usual is not an option. The time for concerted action from us all is not tomorrow. It is now.
Email: ritalindaj@gmail.com

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Antigua Sun: Antiguan diplomat leads environmental discussions
Sunday February 03 2008
Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United Nations John Ashe was among leading experts from around the world attending the recent two-day 16th meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin American and the Caribbean in the Dominican Republic.
Ambassador Ashe attended in his capacity as chairman (ambassadorial) of the G77 and China to brief the ministers on the status of the International Environmental Governance (IEG) discussions within the UN Headquarters.
The IEG debate seeks to develop modalities to, among other things, strengthen the environmental pillar of sustainable development including the hotly debated suggestion of the European Union to establish a WTO-like United Nations Environment Organization (UNEO).
“The UN General Assembly is seized with the issue and it remains the only forum in which all 192 member states can have a say on this important issue. Furthermore, the umbrella developing country group, the G77 and China, has just received an update last week from the representatives of Mexico and Switzerland, the two co-chairs appointed by the president of the UN General Assembly to coordinate this issue,” Ambassador Ashe said.
Throughout the two-day meeting, the ministers were expected to discuss a number of other emerging and relevant issues including, integrated ecosystem management, climate change and the region, and mainstreaming of environmental policies, incorporation of the principles of sustainable development in national policies and programmes.
The ministerial segment was preceded by an experts level meeting to consider and recommend for adoption by the ministers, decisions on environmental indicators, atmospheric pollution, small island developing states, natural protected areas, sustainable consumption and production and environmental education and sustainable development.
For the experts level meeting, which ended last Tuesday, Antigua and Barbuda was represented by Ruleta Camacho of the Environment Division.
While in the Dominican Republic, Ambassador Ashe and the Executive Secretary of the G77 Secretariat, Mourad Ahmia, were further expected to participate in discussions with local officials on the Dominican Republic’s offer to host the ministerial-level G77 Forum on Sports, Culture and Development.

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News Blaze: UN Must Coordinate Action to Address Climate Change, Says New Report
(Article also appears in Fibre2fashion.com)
The international community has recognized that the United Nations is "best suited" to tackle the pressing issue of climate change, and must step up cooperation across the system to meet the challenge, according to a new report made public today.
"The United Nations needs to be more than merely the sum of its parts," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in the report. "The challenge is to develop and implement effectively integrated economic, trade, social and environmental policies on mitigating and adapting to climate change."
The report was prepared in response to a General Assembly resolution, ahead of its upcoming debate on 11-12 February, requesting a comprehensive overview of the UN's activities pertaining to climate change.
Last December, the landmark UN Climate Change Conference in Indonesia ended with 187 countries agreeing to launch a two-year process of formal negotiations on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, on greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, the UN must "deliver as one" by "providing a neutral negotiating forum, establishing trust and galvanizing high-level political support," the report states.
It also points out that some $15-20 trillion may be needed over the next quarter century to achieve sustainable energy, and the UN can provide assistance by helping countries make decisions based on sound scientific and technical data.
The newly released report also stresses the need to make the UN itself climate-neutral. To this end, Mr. Ban has tasked the Environmental Management Group, under the leadership of the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), to find the necessary approaches to make the world body "more climate-friendly and environmentally sustainable."
Source: United Nations
judythpiazza@newsblaze.com

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Le Monde: Les mangroves disparaissent à un rythme "alarmant"
LE MONDE | 01.02.08 | 17h48 • Mis à jour le 01.02.08 | 17h48

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Les mangroves sont menacées. Depuis un quart de siècle, 20 % de ces écosystèmes tropicaux ont été détruits, selon l'Organisation des Nations unies pour l'agriculture et l'alimentation (FAO), qui juge cette perte "alarmante". Dans un rapport rendu public jeudi 31 janvier, la FAO indique que leur superficie totale est passée de 18,8 millions d'hectares en 1980 à 15,2 millions en 2005. "Plus récemment, le taux de perte nette semble avoir ralenti, mais son niveau reste hautement préoccupant", note-t-elle.

Les causes de la régression des mangroves sont multiples : pression démographique accrue, conversion des terres pour l'aquaculture, extension de l'agriculture, développement des infrastructures touristiques, mais aussi pollution et catastrophes naturelles.


"Si le déboisement des mangroves se poursuit, il peut provoquer des pertes considérables de biodiversité et de moyens d'existence pour les populations locales, en plus de l'intrusion du sel dans les zones côtières et de l'envasement des récifs coralliens, des ports et des couloirs de navigation", estime Wulf Killmann, expert forestier de la FAO. "Le tourisme souffrirait également", estime-t-il.
Certains pays ont pris conscience de l'importance de ces écosystèmes. "La plupart ont maintenant interdit la conversion des mangroves pour l'aquaculture et évaluent l'impact sur l'environnement avant d'utiliser ces zones de mangroves à d'autres fins", souligne M. Killmann. En 2006, un rapport du Programme des Nations unies pour l'environnement (PNUE) estimait entre 135 000 et 600 000 euros annuels par kilomètre carré les services économiques rendus par ces écosystèmes. ________________________________________________________________________
Berliner Morgenpost: Was wird aus den Arten?
Von Ulli Kulke

Bild aus der Morgenpost


Unter Weibern: Erst trinken die Löwinnen, dann warten sie auf die durstige Beute
Foto: Universum

Bild aus der Morgenpost


Erst einmal in den Pool: Sofort nach der Ankunft tummeln sich die Elefanten übermütig im Okavango-Delta
Foto: Universum
Wie lange können wir uns, können unsere Kinder sich noch der vielfältigen Natur erfreuen, wie sie uns Alastair Fothergill in seiner wunderbaren Dokumentation "Unsere Erde" darstellt? Der Zeitgeist heute vermittelt in dieser Frage Endzeitstimmung. Rapides Artensterben, Raubbau an der Natur, Landschaftsfraß und nun auch noch der Klimawandel - vom Eisbären bis zum Maikäfer, keinem unserer Lieblinge können wir noch in die Augen schauen, ohne schlechtes Gewissen dafür, dass wir ihm und seinen Anverwandten schon bald den Garaus machen. Wüste oder Zubetonierung, das scheinen die beiden einzigen gnadenlosen Optionen für die Zukunft des Planeten zu sein.
Vielleicht hat es ja was Gutes, dass wir derzeit die gegenläufigen Tendenzen, die guten Nachrichten, ja die Wahrheiten hinter den oftmals so plakativen wie völlig falschen Alarmrufen nicht erkennen, nicht sehen wollen, weil gerade unsere Angst vor der Zerstörung der Natur unsere schönen Zeiten von weit schlimmeren unterscheidet. Etwa vom 18. Jahrhundert, als Georg Wilhelm Steller in Ostasien die Stellersche Seekuh entdeckte, und dieselbe sofort von Jägern gnadenlos ausgerottet wurde. Als man den Riesenalk im Nordatlantik und die Dronte im Südmeer blindlings bis auf den letzten Vertreter abknallte, und noch lange danach, bis weit ins 20. Jahrhundert die Waldrodung, besonders im Regenwald, als Fortschritt galt.
Und heute?
Gewiss: Das Artensterben schreitet voran. So viel steht fest. Und dies ist allemal ein Grund, sorgsam mit der Vielfalt umzugehen. Und doch ist es nicht die ganze Wahrheit. Von hundert- bis tausendfachem Schwund im Vergleich zu früher ist bisweilen die Rede. Täglich verlängert sich die Liste der bedrohten Tierarten. Auf vierstellige Zahlen schätzen manche den Verlust an Arten an einem einzigen Tag.
Zwischenfrage: Fällt uns da eigentlich spontan auch nur eine einzige Art ein, die in den letzten, sagen wir mal 7300 Tagen, also 20 Jahren, ausgestorben ist? Eine kleine Hilfe: Durch die Zeitungen ging hier der chinesische Flussdelfin, der in den letzten Jahren im Jangtsekiang nicht mehr gesehen wurde. Doch auch hier ist noch nichts entschieden: Vor wenigen Wochen will ihn wieder jemand gefilmt haben.
Zugegeben, die Zwischenfrage war etwas böse. Sind doch mit dem angeblich in die Tausende gehenden täglichen Verlust Arten gemeint, die wir noch gar nicht kennen, angenommene Insekten zumeist, die im Regenwald leben sollen, manche Arten endemisch nur auf einem einzigen Baum. Doch ist es für die Diskussion ja nicht ganz unerheblich, dass es sich hierbei um Simulationen, um Hochrechnungen handelt, um Aussagen, die nicht empirisch belegt sind.
Weil dies aber so ist, werden diese Hochrechnungen auf dann doch etwas unzulässige Weise mit Ikonen der Tierwelt vermischt, die jeder kennt. Der Eisbär zum Beispiel, der angeblich genauso vorm Aussterben steht wie die unbekannte Libelle im Amazonaswald: Ursus maritimus als einer von täglich 1000 Opfern. Es passt, weil der Lebensraum des Eisbären gerade mal wieder einem Wandel unterzogen ist, in der Arktis schmilzt im Sommer das Eis. Und suchen wir nicht auch plakative Argumente dafür, mehr gegen den Klimawandel tun zu müssen? In Deutschland passt es allzumal, weil uns im vergangenen Jahr Knut so nett aus seinen Knopfaugen ansah.
Doch bei Knut als Wahrzeichen für das vom Menschen verursachte Artensterben hört die Wahrheit nun endgültig auf. Seit der Nachkriegszeit hat sich der Bestand der Eisbären von etwa 5000 auf 25 000 erhöht. In den 200 000 Jahren, seit sich der Eisbär vom Braunbär abgespaltet hat, war die Arktis im Sommer mehrfach eisfrei, was die Art aber ohne Probleme überlebte. Wenn überhaupt, dann ist der Eisbär durch die Jagd gefährdet, nicht durch den Schwund an Eis. Von rund 20 Populationen rund um den Nordpol sind derzeit 16 stabil bis anwachsend.
Unep, die Umweltschutzorganisation der UN, hat vor vier Jahren eine umfangreiche Erhebung vorgelegt, nach der sich der globale Artenschwund bei Säugetieren, Vögeln und Fischen seit 100 Jahren etwa halbiert hat, und so gering sei wie noch nie seit dem 16. Jahrhundert. Der Grund: Die Landwirtschaft sei seit der Grünen Revolution so effektiv, dass sie - trotz Bevölkerungswachstum - ohne allzu starken weiteren Landschaftsfraß auskomme. So musste der Lebensraum der Tiere weniger rasch für neue Ackerflächen beschnitten werden als früher. Auch die Erkenntnis sollte uns ermutigen, die moderne Pflanzenforschung voranzutreiben, um neue Einschnitte zu Lasten des Tierreiches zu verhindern. Dessen Lebensraum, so beklagt denn auch die amerikanische Umweltorganisation IUCN, sei durch Subsistenzwirtschaft in Afrika, ohne Dünger und ohne Pflanzenschutz, eher gefährdet, weil sie ständig neuer Felder bedürfe.
Im Verlag Zweitausendeins erschien im Oktober "Brehms verlorenes Tierleben". Eine Aufzählung aller Tiere aus dem Standardwerk des Altmeisters, die er beschrieb und die ausgestorben sind. Von den 60 verschwundenen Arten sind zwölf im 20. Jahrhundert ausgestorben, davon zwei nach dem letzten Weltkrieg: Der Chapman-Flughund 1952 und der Andentaucher 1959. Danach ging keine Art mehr verloren, die Alfred Brehm in seinem Tierleben aufführte.
All diese Erkenntnisse sollen keine Entwarnung geben. Artenschutz ist wichtig, sinnvoll und bedeutet harte Arbeit von Behörden und Umweltorganisationen, benötigt nicht zuletzt Spendengelder. Doch es gibt keinen Grund, im Dienste eines falschen Alarmismus die Erfolge gerade in den letzten Jahrzehnten zu verschleiern, die eigentlich doch Mut machen sollten. Übrigens: Auch was das Klima angeht, so haben Fauna und Flora unseres Planeten schon größere Sprünge überstanden als wir heute erleben.
Unsere Erde, cbj, 64 S., 14,95 Euro.
Aus der Berliner Morgenpost vom 3. Februar 2008

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Frankfurt live.com: Wassernotstand droht vielen Regionen

Deutsche Wasserwirtschaft steht gut da

Expertentreffen „Wasser- und Abwasserwirtschaft“ über die neusten Entwicklungen

(31.01.08) Vertraut man den Experten von der UNO, so könnten in 20 Jahren schon mehr als 1,8 Milliarden Menschen unter akutem Wassermangel leiden. Dies stellt das Umweltprogramm der Vereinten Nationen (UNEP) dar, das am 25. Oktober 2007 in Berlin vorgestellt wurde. Im Jahr 2050 könnten bereits 5,1 Milliarden Menschen betroffen sein. Gründe für die Befürchtungen der Wasserschützer sind der Klimawandel, die Umweltverschmutzung und auch die Bevölkerungsexplosion.

Diese Faktoren hängen alle eng zusammen: Ändert sich das Klima, gibt es andere Niederschläge, es kommt zu Dürren und Wüstenbildung. Das vorhandene trinkbare Wasser muss von immer mehr Menschen genutzt werden, was wiederum der Wasserqualität nicht gut tut. Achim Steiner, Nachfolger von Klaus Töpfer als Leiter des UN-Umweltprogramms UNEP, warnt entsprechend eindringlich: „Wenn wir uns nicht dort solidarisch organisieren, wo es zu wenig Wasser gibt, wird es in den nächsten Jahren zu Katastrophen kommen.“ Flüchtlingsströme und kriegerische Auseinandersetzungen seien dann nicht mehr auszuschließen.

Wie sieht es bei uns in Deutschland aus?
Die Qualität und Vorkommen des Trinkwassers in Deutschland sind bundesweit gut bis sehr gut. Unser Trinkwasser gehört wegen der aufwändigen und regelmäßigen Überwachung zu den am besten kontrollierten Lebensmitteln überhaupt. Die Versorgung der Bevölkerung mit Trinkwasser unterliegt den sehr strengen Bestimmungen der deutschen Trinkwasserverordnung. Deutschland gehört zu den wasserreichen Regionen auf dieser Welt. Von allen Nutzern (Industrie und Privatverbrauch) werden nur knapp 20 % der sich jährlich erneuernden Wasserressourcen tatsächlich genutzt.

Auch die deutsche Wasserwirtschaft steht gut da – sie weist seit 10 Jahren stabile, allenfalls an der allgemeinen Preisentwicklung orientierte Wasser- und Abwasserpreise vor. Die Entgelte für Wasser und Abwasser in Deutschland liegen im europäischen Durchschnitt, oftmals sogar darunter. Den Kunden wird tagtäglich ein gutes Produkt mit einer sehr hohen Versorgungssicherheit geboten. Dennoch gibt es vielfach den Ruf nach Modernisierung der Branche. So fordert die Bundesregierung von der deutschen Wasserwirtschaft ein stärkeres internationales Engagement und ein transparentes Wirtschaften, um regulatorischen Vorgaben aus Brüssel vorzugreifen.

Im Spätherbst 2007 trafen sich die führenden Vertreter der deutschen Wasserwirtschaft in Berlin zur 6. Handelsblatt Jahrestagung: „Wasser- und Abwasserwirtschaft“, um sich über die neusten Entwicklungen auszutauschen. Die Rahmenbedingungen der EU für eine stärkere interkommunale Zusammenarbeit, PPP (Private-Public-Partnership) und Konzessionen griff Dr. Peter Rebohle (Vizepräsident, Bundesverband der deutschen Gas- und Wasserwirtschaft) auf. Die aktuellen Standpunkte der Wasserverbände zu den Brüsseler Vorschlägen, der Modernisierungsstrategie sowie zu Steuern und Abgaben diskutierte er gemeinsam mit Dr. Andreas Schirmer (Vizepräsident VKU), Jörg Simon (Berliner Wasserbetriebe) sowie Dr. Jochen Stemplewski (Präsident, Allianz der öffentlichen Wasserwirtschaft) und Dr. Stephan Harmening (BDE).

Die Forderung der hessischen Landesregierung, kartellrechtlich die Wasserversorger zu niedrigeren Wasser- und Abwasserpreisen zu bewegen, und die Möglichkeiten einer Regulierung in der Wasserwirtschaft wurde eindrucksvoll von Hermann Daiber (Hessisches Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Verkehr und Landesentwicklung) dargestellt. Die Chancen deutscher Wasser-Unternehmen im Ausland stellte Dr. Manfred Scholle (Gelsenwasser AG) vor.

Eine spannende Tagung der gut aufgestellten deutschen Wasserwirtschaft vor dem Hintergrund der sich abzeichnenden globalen Probleme.

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Diaro Libre: Experto pide más inversión en cambio climático

3 de Febrero del 2008, 7:58 PM

Experto pide más inversión en cambio climático

Enrique Provencio dijo que el reto de las naciones es evitar que las amenazas climatológicas se conviertan en desastres

SANTO DOMINGO. Un consultor del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) llamó a los países de la región a disponer el 1% de su Producto Interno Bruto (PIB) para afrontar los efectos del cambio climático, que traen consigo aumentos de los fenómenos meteorológicos.

Enrique Provencio, consultor de Evaluaciones Ambientales del PNUMA y ex fiscal ambiental de México, aseguró que el reto de las naciones afectadas es evitar que las amenazas climatológicas en curso se conviertan en desastres.

“La región latinoamericana y caribeña es una de las más afectadas con el cambio climático global, tanto por el incremento de fenómenos meteorológicos, como las presiones que se desatan sobre la población”, dijo.

En opinión de Provencio, el cambio climático está ocasionando una reducción en su calidad de vida de la población. Afirmó que, a pesar de los avances logrados, el deterioro ambiental de la región prosigue, y citó la deforestación como uno de los principales problemas.

“Si bien no se pueden evitar los huracanes a corto plazo, sí se puede lograr que haya una mejor preparación de la población y, a través de varios mecanismos, el primero la prevención y crear una cultura de anticipación”, refirió el experto. Provencio participó la semana pasada en el XVI Foro de Ministros de Medio Ambiente de América Latina y el Caribe, organizado por la Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y el PNUMA.

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Europa Press: Los expertos sobre cambio climático analizarán en Albacete el impacto que produce en los sectores productivos de España
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